Influencer: Meet RI Latino Arts Poet-in-Residence 2023 Sussy Santana

The Providence writer has much planned for during National Poetry Month and beyond


What kinds of projects will you focus on as the Rhode Island Latino Arts Poet-in-Residence?

I will be working on Las Abuelas Nos Cuentan, a bilingual, multigenerational, oral history project focusing on the personal narratives of our community elders. In the context of a global pandemic, it felt more necessary than ever to honor the wisdom of our grandparents. I wanted to reflect on what they consider essential, how they view legacy, and what experiences have shaped them into who they are.

What is your favorite type of poetry to write and why?

I love poetry that is accessible and luminous, that invites reflection without complication. I’m inspired by the Nuyorican poets (a Puerto Rican NYC-based arts movement). I remember the first time I read “Puerto Rican Obituary” by Pedro Pietri; it really changed the way I saw poetry forever. It showed me how poetry could be used as a tool for change. It was also the first time I read about a reality that was familiar to me. Right now, I’m exploring writing as a form of medicine and poetry is a public bus to healing. I also love epics – the human spirit never disappoints.

Do you write your poems in both Spanish and English? Is it difficult to translate the meaning across cultures?

Spanish is my preferred language for writing but being bicultural and bilingual gives me the freedom to express myself in both languages equally, so I’m not translating. I either write in Spanish, English, or Spanglish. I love exploring the rhythms and moods of both languages because they really do reflect how I exist in the world.

Is there anything special going on in April for National Poetry Month?

I will continue to host Café Recuerdos (a storytelling and coffee event) on third Thursdays at La Galería in Central Falls. For April, we are asking community members to bring a poem that has special meaning to them. I’m also hosting a series of poetry workshops ( Other happenings include Poetry Out Loud at the Athenæum (April 28), and What Cheer Writers Club is hosting virtual events ( I’m sure there’s plenty more; we have a thriving community of poets in RI!

Where are your favorite small businesses in Providence?

My preference is to buy art from local artists directly, but if I’m looking to gift anything with a Providence theme, I love Bad Taste (; they always have quirky things that are fun and showcase local talent.


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